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Full text of "The Games of Moccasin and Bullet"

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The Game of Moccasin 17 

'battle-ground,' and I found that he had known my grandfather in 
Kentucky. The Judge said that a relative of his, a Major Hardin, 
of Kentucky, had told him of an expedition that was led against 
this Indian village; that there was then, or had been, a French 
mission there, and that the Indians had been massacred in regular 
Kentucky fashion. The Judge said, I believe, that his relative had 
told him of this massacre in Kentucky before he removed to Indiana, 
and that he (the Judge) had no doubt that the 'battle-ground' was 
the identical spot of which the Major had told him. The Major, it 
was said, had taken part in this raid, which the Judge thought took 
place about the year 1795.* 

"In 1863, while making the Indianapolis & Waverly gravel 
road, the workmen, digging into a gravel bank, threw out a number 
of human bones. It is not too curious to connect these bones with 
that massacre. * * My father told me that he had found a piece 
of stone-work there — an arch, I believe — and that he was certain 
that this piece, which was skilfully cut, could only have been fash- 
ioned by a white man, and that it may have formed some part of 
the French mission building, "t 



The Games of Moccasin and Bullet 

The following, written by the late Robert B. Duncan, a well- 
known pioneer of Marion County, throws further light on the game 
of "mockuson" spoken of by Tipton (see journal, p. 15). 

"Bullet, as it was termed, was a gambling game considerably 
used in its day; so much so as to cause the enactment [of a law] 
making it a finable offense to play it. It was borrowed from the 

*"On the 26th of August, 1789, about two hundred mounted volunteers, under the com- 
mand of Colonel John Hardin, marched from the Falls of the Ohio to attack some of the 
Indian towns on the Wabash. This expedition returned to the Falls on the 28th of Septem- 
ber, without the loss of a man— having killed six Indians, plundered and burnt one deserted 
village, and destroyed a considerable quantity of corn." — Dillon, p. 220. 

fSince the above was put in type the editor fi litis the question of this Indian town dis- 
cussed at length by D. D. Banta, in the larger history of Johnson County, pp. 283-286. Judge 
Banta's conclusion would seem to be in line with Mr. Dollarhide's version. For further 
information touching the white captive of the upper town see The Western Censor (Indi- 
anapolis public library), June it, 1S23. 



i & The Indiana Magazine of History 

Delaware Indians, * who were great experts in playing it, and were 
inveterate gamblers. I well recollect frequently seeing them play- 
ing the game, which was then called "moccasin," and was played 
in this wise: 

"The professional gambler would spread upon a smooth, level 
grass plat a large, well-dressed deer skin, upon which he would 
place in a semi-circular form, within convenient reach of the player, 
a half-dozen newly-made moccasins. The game consisted in the 
use of a large-sized bullet held in his hands and shown to those 
looking on and desiring to take part in the game, and then, in a 
hurried and very dextrous manner, placing his hand under each 
moccasin, leaving the bullet under one of them. Betting was then 
made as to which one of the moccasins the bullet was under. As 
the manner of shuffling the hands under each moccasin was done 
so rapidly and skilfully that it was impossible for the by-standers 
to see under which the bullet was left, it will thus be seen that the 
chances were largely in favor of the gambler. 

"The few whites inclined in this direction learned this game from 
the Indians, and after the removal of the latter from the country 
kept up the game, using private rooms and covered tables in place 
of grass plat and buckskin; and for want of moccasins, using caps, 
and changing the name from "moccasin" to "bullet." this game 
continued to be played to such an extent as to cause the legislature 
to enact a law making it a finable offense. This law, with the in- 
troduction of the more secret and convenient means of gambling 
still in use, soon caused the game of bullet to become one of the 
lost arts.t" 

*The game was also a favorite one with the Miamis and Pottowattomies. 
^Query—Is the "shell" game of the present day a surviving form of ''moccasin?"